[ Part Two of a series of inspiring articles from a recorded lecture entitled, “Min Ma’een al-Imaam Ahmad” (“Benefits from the Life and Works of Imam Ahmad”) by Shaykh Saalih Aal ash-Shaykh (may Allaah preserve him) ]
Speaking Only About Beneficial Matters
Aboo Daawood Sulaymaan ibn Ash’ath, the author of Sunan Abee Daawood, was a student of Imam Ahmad who related many issues from him, issues that are published today. He said, describing the Imam, “I have not seen anyone like Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal He never used to talk about the things that the people talk loosely about from the worldly affairs, but if some affair of knowledge was mentioned, he would talk.”
To repeat the quote, “I have not seen anyone like Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal He never used to talk about the things that the people talk loosely about from the worldly affairs, but if some affair of knowledge was mentioned, he would talk.”
This attribute is certainly an attribute of the great Imams of the most pious people, those who sternly dedicate their lives to what benefit the people. The one who speaks about every affair does not have the noble silence of the people of knowledge, nor the silence of the people of righteousness.
So therefore, a righteous person whose heart is attached to the Next Life should be known by his silence when he does not speak, and he should be known by his speech when he talks. His speech is only about good things, and he keeps silent of evil affairs, as Allaah, the Mighty and Exalted, says :
( There is no good in most of their private gatherings, except for those who order the people to give charity or order other acts of kindness, or those who mend broken ties between people )
Imam Ahmad used to sit with his brothers occasionally, and sometimes with his companions and students. He would also mix with the common people as well. They would talk about a number of affairs. But Imam Ahmad would only speak if there was something beneficial to be said. The benefit could be his teaching the people or ordering them with righteousness. They said, “If some affair of knowledge was mentioned, he would talk.”
In reality, this concept has been put to the test. The heart is not able to contain too many things, too many conflicting things inside a person’s character. So it is binding on the student of knowledge to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to knowledge, first and foremost. He must stay away from vain talk and wasting his time. If he contemplates something, then he contemplates over some issue related to knowledge. If he speaks, then he speaks about knowledge. This will cause his life to take the task of seeking knowledge head-on, and it will give him a strong desire to study.
As a result of this, the student’s speech will differ from the speech of other people. Why? That is because the student speaks the language of the people of knowledge. He lives with the Companions and their students. He lives with Maalik, Ash-Shaafi’ee, Ahmad, and Sufyaan. He lives with Al-Bukhaaree and the Imams like Ibn Khuzaymah and Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. He lives with the Imams of Islaam. He speaks with their words as he discusses issues with them. He is immersed in their oceans of knowledge.
Hearing everything that the people talk about, and then engaging in that talk with them, and then reading things from just anyone and passing it on, all of this has an effect on the heart of the Muslim in general, specifically it has a bigger effect on the heart of the student of knowledge.
This means that a person must make a mental note to himself that he must not allow his heart to be receptive to every single thing. Rather he must define its course and clarify his methodology within himself, and then he takes that path. And the greatest methodology is that of the inheritors of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), those who he spoke about, saying:
“Verily the prophets do not leave behind dirhams or deenaars, rather they leave behind knowledge. So whoever receives some of it, verily he has received an expansive treasure.” 
What a great accomplishment it is for a man to contemplate about his Religion, about knowledge, about that which brings him benefit! And when he speaks, he only speaks about an issue that will benefit him in his Religion, like ordering righteousness, commanding the people to give charity, teaching, learning, and the likes. Even in his everyday conversations, his desire for knowledge is evident.
A man is raised in rank when he harnesses his eagerness for things. The soul is eager for many different things, so do not let it go to whatever it craves, force it to go after the things that Allaah, the Mighty and Exalted, has sought from you.
 the meaning of Soorah An-Nisaa’ (4):114
 from an authentic hadeeth collected by At-Tirmithee and Ibn Maajah, on the authority of Aboo Ad-Dardaa’ (may Allaah be pleased with him). Al-Albaanee declared it to be saheeh in Saheeh Sunan At-Tirmithee (#2682).
Continue reading… Part Three – Living in Fear of Allaah
Or go to the Index of articles in this inspiring series.
Translation, Titles, and Footnotes by: Moosaa Richardson
Originally published on Bakkah.net: 1423-05-16